Express Pharma

Serum Institute to invest $100 million on potential COVID-19 vaccine

It has partnered with AstraZeneca, a British company, to ensure equitable supply of the AZD1222 vaccine doses to India as well as low-and-middle-income countries

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Serum Institute of India is investing $100 million on a potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed at Oxford University, according to a company official.

The Pune-based company has partnered with AstraZeneca, a British company, to ensure equitable supply of the AZD1222 vaccine doses to India as well as low-and-middle-income countries.

“Our manufacturing facility is ready and we plan to start production in two months. We are spending more than $100 million for this facility. Till the trials are completed successfully for safety and efficacy, vaccines will not be distributed either in India or anywhere else in the world,” informed Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India (SII).

“Having said that, we will start making a few millions of doses and stockpiling it at personal risk,” added Poonawalla.

To a question on how much doses India is likely to get in the first phase and by when they would be available, he said that it is a bit early to comment on a specific number.

“However, if the vaccine trials succeed, India will gain access to the doses as it will also be the requirement of the Government of India. And we are certain that everybody will respect if the substantial volumes go to India,” he added.

Earlier, Poonawalla, on tie-up with Astrazeneca had said, “SII is delighted to partner with AstraZeneca in bringing this vaccine to India as well as low-and-middle-income countries. We will work closely with AstraZeneca to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine in these countries.”

On SII’s endeavour to develop a vaccine with US-based firm Codagenix, Poonawalla recently said that at present, the firm is undergoing pre-clinical trials (animal trial phase) and hope to progress to the human trial phase by September/October.

“The aim is to make the vaccine over the next 1.5-2 years to help combat the novel coronavirus. With the combined efforts of our partner Codagenix, we are optimistic that we will be able to provide a viable and effective vaccine for mass use,” he had said.

Besides, Oxford and Codagenix, the firm is also working with Austria’s Themis and other two vaccine candidates.

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